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Manners, please!

Manners, please!

作者:巫慕  时间:2019-03-07 14:02:10  人气:

By Duncan Graham-Rowe in Orlando OBSERVING the social niceties of the conference scene can be difficult enough for human delegates. But this week the people organising the annual meeting of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Orlando, Florida, want robots to rise to this challenge. In a novel competition, robots are having to overcome the same hurdles that face anyone who attends the Orlando meeting. They are dropped outside the conference hotel, and have to ask people for directions or follow an array of signs to the registration desk. Having checked in, they are given a map showing the way to a room in which they have to give a short presentation. To make the challenge even more realistic, the robots can score extra points if they spot a distinguished researcher and strike up a conversation with them. “The more you can be like a human, the more points you get,” says Karen Zita Haigh of the Honeywell Technology Center in Minneapolis, one of the judges. Points will also be awarded for successfully negotiating obstacles including elevators, and ignoring diversions such as other robots attempting to offer hors d’oeuvres, or conference officials asking them to “volunteer” to help out with a menial task, such as delivering a note. Another judge, Alan Schultz of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, admits that the challenge is ambitious. He predicts that it could be ten years before robots attending the annual meeting have honed their conference schmoozing skills to an acceptable level. Only two teams were brave enough to take up the challenge this year—and they seem to have ignored the spirit of the competition by making their robots as rude as possible. Office Boy 2000, entered by the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is a sonar-guided wheelie bin that throws a tantrum to get people’s attention, spinning around and screaming. It then asks for help, which Good Samaritans are expected to provide by typing in instructions. Illah Nourbakhsh, who oversaw the project, says that Office Boy 2000 does not even attempt to be autonomous: it just keeps asking questions until it is sure about what it is doing. The other entry comprises four robots from the University of Southern California’s Robotics Research Laboratories. They possess laser finders to help them avoid hazards in the environment and take their personas from the notoriously offensive characters in the cult animated TV series South Park. Kenny, Stan, Cartman and Kyle push their way through crowds while demanding directions. Schultz admits this isn’t exactly what was intended, but the robots’ brusque approach is within the rules. “It’s just as if a robot were to persuade a human to pick it up and carry it to the conference room,” he says. “That would be acceptable—odd,